To Labor and Not to Seek Reward

Prayer for Generosity - "To labor and not to seek reward" line highlighted

We’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of the Prayer for Generosity, attributed to St. Ignatius.

A few months ago, I was invited to give a retreat for a large group of ministry colleagues that I admire. Many of these colleagues were part of my own formation. In the weeks and days leading up to this retreat, my nerves began to get the best of me. My ever-supportive husband patiently listened to me and encouraged me to stay grounded in prayer, trusting that God was with me.

The morning of the retreat came, and nerves began to rise again. After my morning prayer time, I opened my binder to review my talks one last time. As I did, a note fell out of my binder. My husband had snuck it in there, unbeknownst to me. His note began with words of encouragement and of love. Then, he wrote words that I will never forget.

“It’s not about you.”

His words stopped me in my tracks. They washed over me like a healing balm. They steadied me. I read that phrase again and again. Then, I said it aloud, replacing you with me.

It’s not about me.

These words pointed me right to the source of what all the preparation, all the prayer, all the writing, and all the discerning were about in the first place. It was not about me. It was not about how hard I worked or if I had the right words. It was not about if I had the right story or Scripture in my talk. It was not about what I looked or sounded like on the stage that day. It was not about whether I succeeded or failed in offering a good retreat. It was about God.

The labor I put into that retreat preparation, even working through the nerves that came, was not about me, but about God. It was about the One who loves me unconditionally and who pours abundant graces into my life. It was about the One who out of love for me called me to this ministry.

That’s how it is for each one of us. We are called to be generous to God, who loves us and calls us—to labor without seeking reward, as the line in the Prayer for Generosity says. We are called to serve, not for praise, for accolades, or for admiration, but for the greater glory of God.

It was with these words—it’s not about me—resounding in my heart that I climbed the three steps onto the stage, walked to the middle, and began facilitating the retreat with a lightness in my heart, because I knew that day was not about me but about the One who called me there.

9 COMMENTS

  1. ❤️ this. And I treasure the times when we meet & you and/or others in the group remind all of us that “it’s not about us.” Sharing this message with others is what defines ministry.

  2. You have one wise husband. The comments from Barbara and Peter were very helpful to me in discerning how to frame and term my response to certain situations.

  3. Indeed its not about us, I also think this phrase seeks to speak to our own egos that we sometimes would want and would try so hard to feed in the guise of Labouring in God’s Vineyard. This reflection really spoke to me, Im grateful Laurie.

  4. Thank you for this, I have been struggling for the past couple of weeks on wondering about whether our new Parish priest will approve of the Baptism preparation class I am giving next week. I did request a meeting with him to outline the programme, but he would rather come in and watch and then see if he wants changes. This has unsettled me, but ” this is not about me”, it’s in God’s hands, and I can only do what I have already planned and try and be welcoming and informative for the new parents. I am doing this for God.
    God bless you

  5. Thanks for that! Like Laurie I am concerned about something at present. Am I seeking to take on this role in the Church for my own personal satisfaction or is it for the greater glory of God? Thanks for reminding me that ” It’s not about me”

  6. Just what I needed to hear this morning!! Thank you (and your husband) for pointing me in the right direction! I, too, have been struggling with some anticipatory anxiety about an upcoming presentation and now I realize my focus was way off base! “It’s not about me”!

    With much gratitude,
    Laurie

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